Roosters believe in their NRL youth
The Sydney Roosters believe enthusiasm can outweigh inconsistency in their young squad as they kept their NRL season alive with a spirited 42-28 win over Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday.
The Roosters are only two wins out of the top eight, but after four straight losses it was crucial confidence was restored for a team that has just three players older than 25.
Players from both sides found it difficult to talk about rugby league post-match, given news came through just over an hour before kick-off that Sonia Farah, the mother of Tigers captain Robbie, had lost her battle with pancreatic cancer.
But after a moving minute’s silence that brought Benji Marshall and other Tigers players to tears, the show went on.
In a thrilling exhibition of attacking football, 12 tries were scored.
The Roosters got out to a 24-4 halftime lead, before the Tigers came back from 36-10 down with 19 minutes left to give the Roosters a major scare – with Keith Galloway, Beau Ryan, Tim Moltzen and Chris Lawrence all scoring in close succession.
They got within eight points with eight minutes left, but in the end the Roosters thoroughly deserved their victory as the Tigers had their seven-match winning run broken in front of 20,327 fans.
“When the Tigers get a bit of a roll on you know about it. We talked about it at halftime … but defending it is another thing,” said Roosters captain and 2013 Tigers recruit Braith Anasta – whose own mother, Kim has battled cancer over recent years.
Roosters coach Brian Smith said the veterans in his team, Anasta and Anthony Minichiello, played a major role in rallying the Rooster rookies during the week to overcome their recent struggles and misfortune.
“I just thought it was a real measure of the quality of guys we have here in our squad,” said Smith.
“The way we started the game today you could smell it in the dressing rooms, the body language of all our guys.
“For our younger blokes to be confident given we’ve lost four in a row I reckon that’s a real credit to them.
“As far as the end goal to make the playoffs … we need to get on our bikes.”
It was a try-scoring feast for the Roosters, with props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Lama Tasi and Martin Kennedy among the try-scorers, as well as back-rowers Aidan Guerra and Boyd Cordner.
And it was giant lock Frank-Paul “the wrecking-ball” Nuuausala who was arguably best on ground, setting up two tries and getting away six offloads in an explosive first half.
However, for a team which has lapsed in and out of games in recent weeks, the turning point of the match came in the first half when Minichiello produced arguably the try-saver of the year on Ben Murdoch-Masila – allowing the visitors to maintain a 12-4 lead and lay the platform for victory.
“I just gave him my best shot and the ball came out, I don’t know how,” he said.
The Roosters have struggled all year for consistency, both within games and week-to-week, but Minichiello said the team plans to use their youth and inexperience to their advantage.
“It’s been pretty positive around training because it’s such a young group,” he said. We didn’t sulk.”© AAP 2013
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